Deriving maximum potential while ensuring sustainable management of the ocean space - Seychelles hosts first national forum on the blue economy
The national stakeholders’ forum which started today is seeking to provide the various sectors directly involved in developing the blue economy with the opportunity to give their input and contribute ideas on how to better develop this concept so as to better manage the Seychelles oceanic resources. (Romano Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Bringing together the Seychellois people especially those involved in the exploitation of the vast resources found in the Seychelles oceanic space to engage in dialogue, identify concerns and find common ground on how to better develop the blue economy to derive maximum benefit for the country as a whole. That is the aim of a two-day national stakeholder consultation forum on the Blue Economy.
The forum which opened this morning at the International Conference Centre in the Seychelles capital of Victoria is being organised by the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).
Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands, has a total land area of 455 km² spread over an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 million square km, which means over 99 percent of its territory is oceanic space.
The blue economy is a concept which Seychelles has been actively promoting on the international scene including at the Rio Summit on sustainable development in 2012, during the blue economy summit held in Abu Dhabi in January this year and even at the recent SIDS conference in Samoa.
The national stakeholders’ forum which started today is now seeking to provide the various sectors directly involved in developing the blue economy with the opportunity to give their input and contribute ideas on how to better develop this concept.
“….As we move forward the implementation of the concept will reverse the current trends of continuous degradation of the marine ecosystem and its functionalities. There is a lot of work to be done we have to establish complimentary rules and regulations and change mindsets, they have to be replaced by concrete actions that will promote sustainable management of our ocean space and its potentials,” said the Seychelles Minister for Natural Resources at the start of the meeting this morning.
|Participants and guests attending the opening of the first national stakeholders forum on the blue economy this morning. (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Officially opening the forum the Seychelles President James Michel said the dialogue on the blue economy is everyone’s concern.
“It concerns our parents and grandparents. It concerns our children. The sea has always been a source of livelihood for the Seychellois. The Blue Economy, we are all convinced, can increase substantially the opportunities from it. The Blue Economy we are aiming for is about participation, the creation of new opportunities and social justice,” said Michel.
The Seychellois Head of State highlighted investments made to increase marine related activities and he called for more Seychellois to be involved to maximise the potentials that exist in the sector while stressing the need to develop initiatives to protect and ensure sustainable management of the marine areas and their resources.
“It is important that nothing is wasted from the sea, that the by-catch is fully utilised, that value addition is increased and that more Seychellois work on industrial tuna vessels. The industry must be fully integrated to enable more sharing of the wealth by both local and foreign investors,” he said while also calling on the banks to play their part to make affordable credit readily available to Seychelles’ Blue Economy entrepreneurs
Diminishing fish stocks, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and piracy, which has been contained but still remains a menace on the high seas, barriers faced by Seychellois exporters of swordfish to the European market because of unjust phytosanitary regulations are some of the challenges which Michel called on the forum to address.
While he addressed the challenges Michel also highlighted the scope of opportunities that exist to further develop the blue economy aside of fishing where he talked about renewable energy potential, diversification of tourism products, oil and gas potential, the possibility for Seychelles to become a hub for the distribution of cargo amongst others.
|President James Michel while officially opening the two day forum at the Seychelles International Conference Centre in Victoria. (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
The two day forum is bringing together local fishermen, scientists, environmentalists, representatives of the Seychelles Coastguards, tourism sector, civil society, private sector as well as foreign companies that exploit resources from the Seychelles waters, amongst others.
Welcoming the initiative the Chairman of the Seychelles Fishing Boat Owners Association Keith André said the development of the blue economy would help to create more employment opportunities for Seychellois. Nevertheless he stressed on the need for more Seychellois entrepreneurs to be given the opportunity and necessary support to participate in this venture.
“Seychellois should be trained in all fields of potential exploitation and be ready to take leadership in the management of those resources. Co-ownership should be encouraged at all cost between Seychellois and foreign partners………But before we venture into new industries and their development it is of vital importance that we look to protect our achievements, it is also important that we ensure that we are reaping maximum from resources being currently exploited, such as our tuna industry, our blue gold. I strongly believe that a small nation like the Seychelles should be earning a lot more from the tuna industry when comparing the size of the operations that are being supported by our resources. It is an industry where Seychellois entrepreneurs have been lacking the opportunities and encouragement to participate fully in its sustainable development,” said André.
By promoting dialogue between the various stakeholders in key thematic fields pertaining to the blue economy the organisers are hoping that the stakeholders will be better informed and sensitized on the strides being made in all sectors involved in the blue economy as well as have a more comprehensive insight on the continued development potentials of these sectors.
Seychelles is also benefiting from the technical expertise of the Commonwealth to develop its national blue economy roadmap and the national stakeholders forum is expected to ensure that the aspirations of the Seychellois people are reflected in this roadmap.